Modern History of the Kurds / Edition 3

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In this narrative, the first comprehensive account of recent Kurdish history, David McDowall traces the roots of Kurdish nationalism from the collapse of the Kurdish emirates in the nineteenth century and the consequent crisis in tribal politics, through the post-1918 peace settlement for which the Kurds were wholly unprepared, to the slow emergence of an educated non-tribal class during the middle years of this century. This new class faced two enemies. Externally, it had to resist the recently established regimes in Iran, Turkey and Iraq, all of which equated modernization with state nationalism, ethnic subordination and centralization. Internally, it had to transform a society based primarily on the socio-economic ethic of tribal patronage to one based on ethnic identity. McDowall shows how in each of these countries the struggle has taken on its own characteristics, problems and prospects; why pan-Kurdish unity still proves so elusive; and how governments have used the internal fault lines of Kurdish society to impede national progress. He also explains why the Kurdish question is unlikely to disappear and examines the likely prospects for the future.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for previous editions:
"...the best single narrative history of the Kurds ... It certainly belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in the Middle East today..."--Washington Post Book World

"...a work of impressive traditional extraordinary account."--New York Times

" impressive and important achievement."--New Statesman and Society

"...a superbly readable narrative...a great achievement on many levels."--Christopher Walker

Library Journal
McDowall, a British specialist on Middle Eastern affairs (Palestine and Israel: The Uprising and Beyond, Univ. of California, 1990) and acknowledged expert on the Kurds, has produced a comprehensive, highly detailed history of the Kurds-the first in English of such depth-focusing primarily on the 19th century to the present. Relying extensively on primary sources including those in Arabic, Turkish, and various languages spoken by the Kurds, he gives considerable coverage to the 1918-25 period, when the Kurds lost their one main opportunity for autonomy after the demise of the Ottoman and Qajar empires. Today's ongoing struggle for Kurdish independence stems from the apportioning that took place during that seven-year period after World War I, dividing the Kurds among the newly created nations of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. McDowall focuses on the Kurds in Turkey and Iraq, where they constitute more than 20 percent of the population. He also includes background information on Kurdish society not readily available in English, e.g., on the various Islamic sects to which a minority of the Kurds belong. Each chapter concludes with an extensive source and footnote list. Although unquestionably a valuable and well-written work, because of its scholarly nature it is highly recommended only for academic and specialized Middle East collections.-Ruth K. Baacke, Whatcom Cty. Lib. System, Bellingham, Wash.
McDowall, who has published one other book on Middle Eastern affairs, depicts here the history of the Kurds from the 19th century to present day, focusing particularly on the Kurds' continuous attempt to achieve rights and ultimately land of their own. He explores the rivalries within Kurdish society and the lack of international support for Kurdish nationalism, while dedicating sections to each of the ethno-national movements in Iraq, Turkey, and Iran. Distributed by Palgrave. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781850434160
  • Publisher: I. B.Tauris & Company, Limited
  • Publication date: 3/4/2004
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 504
  • Sales rank: 690,070
  • Product dimensions: 6.07 (w) x 9.28 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

David McDowall is an acknowledged expert on the Kurds and author of Palestine and Israel: The Uprising and Beyond (IBT 1989).

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Kurdish Identity and Social Formation 1
Bk. I The Kurds in the Age of Tribe and Empire
2 Kurdistan before the Nineteenth Century 21
3 Ottoman Kurdistan, 1800-1850 38
4 Ottoman Kurdistan, 1850-1914 49
5 The Qajars and the Kurds 66
6 Revolution, Nationalism and War, 1908-1918 87
Bk. II Incorporating the Kurds
7 Redrawing the Map: The Partition of Ottoman Kurdistan 115
8 The Kurds, Britain and Iraq 151
9 Incorporating Torkey's Kurds 184
10 The Kurds under Reza Shah 214
Bk. III Ethno-nationalism in Iran
11 Tribe or Ethnicity? The Mahabad Republic 231
12 Iran: Creating a National Movement 249
13 Subjects of the Shi'i Republic 261
Bk. IV Ethno-nationalism in Iraq
14 The Birth of a Nationalist Movement under Hashimite Rule 287
15 The Kurds in Revolutionary Iraq 302
16 The Kurds under the Baath, 1968-1975 323
17 The Road to Genocide, 1975-1988 343
18 Uprising and Self-rule 368
Bk. V Ethno-nationalism in Turkey
19 The Kurdish National Revival in Turkey, 1946-1979 395
20 The PKK and the Mass Movement 418
Afterword: Retrospect and Prospect 445
Appendix: The Treaty of Sevres 450
Index 452
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